4 Things To Know About Dietary Supplements for Eye Conditions

As many as 21 million Americans have vision problems and 80 million have potentially blinding eye diseases. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma are the main causes of vision problems and blindness in older Americans. There are some conventional treatments or surgery available for some eye conditions, but some people turn to dietary supplements to prevent them or to delay their progression. Here are 4 things you should know if you are considering taking dietary supplements for eye conditions:

  1. Findings from the Age-Related Eye Disease Studies (AREDS and AREDS2) suggest that taking dietary supplements with antioxidant vitamins and zinc may slow the progression of age-related macular degeneration in people who have intermediate AMD, and those who have late AMD in one eye. Data from other studies do not support using other dietary supplements, such as Ginkgo biloba and omega-3 fatty acids for AMD.

  2. Current research does not support the use of dietary supplementation with vitamins A, C, and E as glaucoma treatments. There is also little evidence to support using megavitamins, special diets, acupuncture, relaxation techniques, or therapeutic touch for glaucoma. Early detection and conventional treatment of glaucoma are important.

  3. Although there are some data from observational research that dietary vitamin B12 supplements may slow or prevent cataract development, no dietary supplements have been recommended for the treatment of cataracts.  

  4. Take charge of your health—talk with your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use. Together, you can make shared, well-informed decisions.